No Valentine. Though Windy took me
to the Grange last night. Mrs Foster
frowns when that cowboy whistles.
Lucky for me, all the girls like to dance.
Wind from the northwest, cold and thick.
Snow by dusk. Storms approach like flocks
of swords. Summer Lake, an open wound.
The wind never lets up.
Last night, I tossed and turned. Tried
not to touch myself when the sleet came.
But June, ranch hand from Silver Lake,
fine red hair and gentle hands…
She found me in a sweat, entered my shack
through a trapdoor to a feverish dream.
I want a home with good bones, a bungalow
from the 1920s with mahogany columns and
beaded wainscoting in the parlor.
I want maple floors well worn from years of
children’s slippers, lath plaster, and an attic
where boys hid airline liquor and pinups.
I want a home with catacombs for walls,
where the man of the house once stashed
his mistress’s many perfumed letters.
I want an oak front door with leaded glass
transom, and a warped front porch, which
when walked across feels like sailing drunk.
I want hand-hewn siding and a porch swing
with braided ropes that creak to the cadence
of my daydreams. I’d swing there for hours,
Sipping bourbon, spitting tobacco, squinting
across the way toward the neighbor lady’s
upstairs bedroom window--
Then I’d raise my glass, the sun sinking
through it, and watch the last of the day
slowly undress those whitewashed spindles--
The afterglow of history gently revealed
on the many fine weather-worn bones
of my good home.
Full Lunar Eclipse, 1928
Windy left without a wink. His truck snaked north
along the stage route, left pumice stains, red plumes
on the bruised horizon. Hell-bent for a girl in Bend
whose father owns a mill, June says…
I scrub the griddle with Borax and gravel, so hard
my knuckles bleed. Beyond this hovel, dust devils
drill the onion flats, and the last of the geese
lift off from what’s left of Summer Lake.
Crazy-cracks riddle the playa. A drought they say.
All the women, but the sharecroppers’ daughters,
and a few teachers who’ve found better jobs,
will be wives by July. What am I going to do?
June leans forward, touches my wrist, says,
Follow your heart.
In this book, Scot Siegel’s poems have an ambidextrous quality, ready to pivot deftly from history to imagined history, from biography to prophecy. His is a voice rinsed clear by desert winds, ready to enter any story and make it first person – for the writer, for the reader. He can claim at one point “no pretense...no history, no trajectory...,” and yet his imagination honors history, invents history, and makes history matter, gives it important work to do. “I want to go down in history and bring back a future worth remembering.” These poems will convey you to resonant places in your life.
—Kim Stafford, Lewis and Clark College; Oregon Book Award recipient for 100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do: How My Brother Disappeared
I am honored to have my writing featured with the works of some amazing artists, in the Public Art Guide for Portland's newest light rail transit line. The guide can be viewed and downloaded for free here:
I am honored to announce that Salmon Poetry of Ireland will be publishing my next book of poetry in early 2016. We are finalizing the manuscript and anticipate a launch in conjunction with the Associated Writers Program Conference in Los Angeles this March. Salmon also published my 2012 title, Thousands Flee California Wildflowers, and did a fantastic job. The publisher, Jessie Lendennie, is real sweetheart, and her press is located at the beautiful Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, Ireland.
Stay tuned, and please let me know if you would like an advance copy for a book review, or if you want receive an announcement when the book is published, You can reach me via email or by using the contact form on this site. Thank you!
I am honored to have my poems letter-pressed in Portland's sidewalks as part of the public art program for Tri=Met's new light rail line, the 'Orange Line' between Portland and Milwaukie.